Premiere: The Ragged Intimacy of Gatlin’s Billowing “Curly Hair”

Gatlin’s intimate “Curly Hair” finds an artist deep in the process of finding herself and coming into her own as a self-aware mover and shaker in her community.

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Self-discovery is a slow-moving process that requires not only our attention, but also an inward focus on ourselves and on the present Only with patience and dedication can we truly come to better know ourselves, understanding our motivations and behaviors along with how we interact with our surrounding world. Dark and dreamily brooding, Gatlin’s intimate song “Curly Hair” finds an artist deep in the process of finding herself and coming into her own as a self-aware mover and shaker in her community.

Curly Hair - Gatlin © Sydney Whitten
Curly Hair – Gatlin © Sydney Whitten
I light matches off my teeth just to feel something
And I love Jesus, but he’s busy
upstairs and I’m a first world nothing
I turn the television on just for conversation
And see how close I can get to
nicotine without getting addicted

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the Jessica DiMento-filmed music video for Gatlin’s song “Curly Hair.” An alt-folk singer/songwriter based in Nashville, Gatlin is the stirring artist project of Gatlin Thornton, whose nuanced lyrics and moody musical style lends her songs the look and feel of an unpolished Phoebe Bridgers. Debuting earlier this year, Gatlin’s three songs “Maniac,” “Cold Night in Brooklyn, and “Curly Hair” depict a lyrically-potent, melodically-savvy artistry that has truly found her niche in the world.

Filmed on Super 8, the “Curly Hair” video lends further insight into a song about self-discovery and one’s understanding of oneself. Gatlin sings of moments of solitude and feelings of attraction and connection as she dives deep into her own psych, exploring what being present and in the moment means to her right now.

There’s a boy with curly hair
who’s caught my eye

But he drinks too much and doesn’t
make good use of his time

June’s a burden cause in
June he don’t live in Tennessee

So I take curves at 45 so it’s like
s still in the shotgun seat
Curly Hair - Gatlin © Sydney Whitten
Curly Hair – Gatlin © Sydney Whitten

“This video concept has been a dream of mine for a while, and “Curly Hair” was the perfect fit,” Gatlin tells Atwood Magazine. “It was shot on Super 8 film. I love the imperfections and character that old film brings. The song is a look into the inner-workings of my brain and thoughts so I wanted the video to make the sporadic, craziness come to life. The video shows a different scene line by line to try to capture the head space and emit the feeling that was occurring in me at the time of each line.”

She continues, “The song itself was written over a several month period; it was a jumbled mess of random one lines in the notes section of my phone. The summer of 2018 was one of self-discovery and certain thoughts would enter my noggin and I would jot them down. Then towards the end of summer I just sort of pieced them together and that was “Curly Hair”! My hope is that the video would translate that idea – the “finding oneself” and adventure that summer brought. It truly was a time of lounging on a flamingo pool float thinking about my privilege being in a first world, road tripping on my Harley to experience some sort of adrenaline high, playing with the idea of crushing on the “bad boy”, and being frustrated with the in-between stage of not being a kid anymore but also not quite having my “adult” shit together.”

Gatlin’s self-awareness fuels not only her own internal struggle, but also her music’s ragged, raw folk tonality. “Curly Hair” is rough, yet a wholly finished piece in that it captures the strained emotions of a moment of flux, transition, and change. The artist is grounded in her past, yet untethered to the future — it’s hers to mold and shape, which is as exciting a prospect as it is a provocative, daunting one. The imagery we experience in her video, from lounging in the pool to smoking a cigar, and engaging in a staring contest with a bighorn sheep’s head, all speak to the artist’s liminal growth and her continuous search for understanding.

A fantastically fitting aesthetic for a song that is so deeply embedded in a moment in time, “Curly Hair” is as fun a jam to listen to as it is to watch. Stream Gatlin’s latest exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for more from this promising Nashville artist in the months to come!

Stream: “Curly Hair” – Gatlin

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Curly Hair - Gatlin © Sydney Whitten

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